Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Pascrell National FIRE Grant Program Delivers for Three Essex County Fire Departments

Dec 30, 2002
Press Release

Over 20,000 in new federal dollars awarded by FEMA to Montclair, Belleville and Bloomfield:
 Funds will pay for Firefighter Safety and Operations

[PATERSON - Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8th) announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recently awarded three municipalities in Essex County, the Townships of Montclair,  Belleville, and Bloomfield, federal grants under the Assistance to Firefighter Program.  The program was directly created by Pascrell's Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act, legislation signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.   The funding can be used to fund training, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment for firefighters, and wellness and fitness programs.

Over 20,000 in new federal dollars awarded by FEMA to Montclair, Belleville and Bloomfield: Funds will pay for Firefighter Safety and Operations

The Township of Montclair's Fire Department received an award last week in the amount of $$96,918, including $87,227 in new federal funding and a 10% match from Montclair in the amount of $9,691. Belleville received an award of $45,300, which includes $40,770 in federal dollars and a local match of $4,530, and Bloomfield's award totaled $83,884, including $75,496 in federal funds and a 10% match of $8,388.   Montclair also received a FIRE grant last year in the amount of $4,500.

This is the second year that fire departments across America have received grants under the  Assistance to Firefighters Program.

"The FIRE Act was written right here in the Eighth District specifically to help communities such as Montclair, Bloomfield, and Belleville support their first responders," Pascrell said in announcing the award.

"For too long, the federal government turned a deaf ear to the pressing needs of fire departments.  These significant grants demonstrate that through our FIRE Act, we have changed that shortsighted policy. These dollars will make a big impact."

"Thanks to our bill, towns will no longer have to rely solely on raising property taxes and holding bake sales to support their first responders.  Those days are over.  The federal government is now a full partner with local firefighters and the taxpayers they protect," said Pascrell.

The Assistance to Firefighters Program was created by Pascrell's landmark Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act legislation, first enacted in October of 2000, and is administered by the United States Fire Services Administration (USFA) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Pascrell's "FIRE Act," introduced in March of 1999, is the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments.

Other local communities that have already benefited from Pascrell's FIRE Bill include Verona, which received a $12,000 award last year, and West Orange, which received a $31,270 award earlier this year.

More than 19,500 applications were received by FEMA in this, the second year of the program.  The requests totaled approximately $2.2 billion.  FEMA expects to award 5,500 grants with the $360 million in funds appropriated in FY 2002.

Working with the major fire service organizations, FEMA crafted a program implementation framework that placed eligible grant activities into four program areas.  Fire departments could apply for eligible activities in one of four different programs:

Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety (eligible activities include:

Training, Wellness and Fitness, Firefighting Equipment, and Personal Protective Equipment).

Fire Prevention (eligible activities include:

Public Education, Public Awareness, Code Enforcement, and Arson Prevention).
Emergency Medical Services (eligible activities include: Training and Equipment).
Firefighting Vehicles.

The maximum amount an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. As part of the application, applicants had to demonstrate financial need and articulate the benefits to be derived from the grant funds.  Funding priorities for each of the activities were established utilizing recommendations from each of the nine major national fire service organizations.

America's 32,000 paid, volunteer, and part-paid departments were all eligible for the grants under the program.